Saturday, 30 August 2014, 03:32pm
Hales looks to thrive with Cook
Cook has been assailed, not for the first time this summer, by the friendly-fire opinions of a former team-mate - Graeme Swann advocating he give up on the World Cup, for his and England's sake - and after a wide-margin defeat against India in the second Royal London Series match, he made it clear that type of input from players turned pundits is far from welcome.
Hales, already a Twenty20 power-hitter of some repute for England, made his one-day international debut in Cardiff and is set to bat with Cook for only the second time on his home ground at Trent Bridge on Saturday.
As England seek to level the series - anything less, and they will no longer be able to win it - the 6ft 5in opener will be bidding to consolidate on his encouraging start.
He top-scored, and shared a half-century stand with Cook in an otherwise miserable performance from the home batsmen.
Returning to a venue where he has so often delighted Nottinghamshire supporters, and also first served notice of his international potential with 99 from 68 balls in a Twenty20 against West Indies two years ago, he is not about to get ahead of himself.
The Swann thesis is that Cook's sub-80 ODI strike rate, compared to Hales' of 99.47 in List A cricket, is not fit for purpose - certainly for a world tournament such as the one towards which England are building in Australia and New Zealand early next year.
But Hales is merely intent on proving, as his recent prolific county form suggests, that he can trade up successfully to ODIs.
"It's a dream come true, particularly after how last season went in first-class cricket," the 25-year-old said of his new role.
"I've had to work really hard to show people I can be more than just a Twenty20 slogger."
As for his pairing with Cook, he is optimistic and intent on making it work - although, to that end it seems, England supporters may find themselves watching two men earnestly stifling their instincts.
Hales describes himself and Cook "playing our natural games" in the hope their "partnership will forge together".
Yet it appears the captain must unearth a tempo to keep Swann and others happy, while his new partner will be reining himself in to last the 50-over course.
Asked if he will feel bound to play big shots from the outset, Hales said: "Not at all.
"I think the job of the top four in one-day cricket is to get a hundred.
"Someone has to put their hand up and do that for the team. That's the role of the top four, someone to go big.
"I hope our games can feed off each other, and we can get that partnership going.
"I really enjoyed the start we had, and hope there are more of those partnerships to come."
He had the closest view of Cook's methods at the SWALEC Stadium, and added: "He's a very technically sound guy and he's the right guy at the top of the order.
"I hope he'll show everyone in this series what he can do.
"We're still learning about each other's games, talking with each other in the nets about where our single options are, what our boundary options are - and I hope we can forge a good partnership heading into the World Cup."
Hales must attune himself to the longer game for England, as he has so well for Nottinghamshire this summer.
"In Twenty20, you strike at 130-140," he said.
"You've got so much more time in one-day cricket, particularly with two new white balls.
"You can do a lot of scoring towards the back-end of the innings, especially with fielding restrictions.
"So for me, it's about giving myself a lot more time at the top, and then cashing in later when it's easier to score."
Whatever their approach, England collectively cannot afford to be as badly off colour as they were in Wales.
"We're not hiding from the fact it was a poor team performance all round," Hales added.
"But we spoke about it, wiped the slate clean. We're feeling fresh and confident heading into this game."
Hales believes India deserve credit for their skilled and clever bowling - but expects them to find it more difficult on a different pitch.
"They were just very cunning," he said.
"Once I got past 30, they were one step ahead of me.
"So it's up to me to put that right, and have that game smartness.
"We feel a lot more prepared now, and this pitch will be a lot easier to score on and take the game back to their bowlers."
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Work starts here for Alex Hales and his World Cup partnership with Alastair Cook